When the lives of children are so caught up these days with scheduled activities, the cyber world and the hard business of growing up in modern times, it’s refreshing to find a place and occasion where magic, timelessness and imagination predominate. We have found that at the annual Milner Gardens fairy festival, scheduled this year for June 22 – 25. Even the grown-ups are enchanted.
Every year around the summer solstice, the story goes, the fairies at Qualicum Beach’s Milner Gardens and Woodland allow their homes to be visible to humans. Upwards of 50 of the miniscule dwellings appear, tucked into the woodland and gardens, hidden among shade-dappled trails.
Created by volunteers, the fairy houses ran the gamut, from the very simplest and most basic to elaborate. There are fairy homes created from wood bark, dried ferns, moss, bird nests, teeny tiny bits and pieces gleaned from woods and beach. Visitors are guided to them by ribbons hung from branches with notes asking to please not touch the houses, as the fairies would probably be napping.
It isn’t just the houses that enchant, though. Many of them are surrounded by tableaux that are evocative of a slower, gentler life. Miniscule ladders lead to tiny swings, miniature hand-made tables and chairs are located in petite garden settings that suggest a fairy tea is about to commence. There are tiny hammocks, tiny beds, tiny patios, pathways, floral displays. Some fairy houses hang from branches while others are tucked among the woodland beauty that is Milner. All of them fired the imagination and bring magic to the day.
The other great thing about this event is that the children (and some of the adults, too!) really get in to the spirit, There are dozens of fairies of the human variety, complete with fancy dresses and wings, flitting about the gardens.
On our last visit to this event we spent a good 90 minutes seeking out the hidden gems, then wandered along to the historic and very lovely Milner house where tea, lemonade and fairy cakes were being served in the shade of the back terrace. I can never say enough about the dedicated ladies who volunteer their time to run the inside tea room and outdoor venues for special events like this – they offer superb, cheerful service every time we are there, along with tasty sustenance.
We finished the day by purchasing a couple of jars of the house-made jams on offer at the house. Created with fruit from the gardens, they are some of the best, and proceeds go to supporting the heritage treasure that has become a popular destination for residents and visitors alike. So, thanks to Veronica Milner, her belief in fairies and the many staff and volunteers who keep her vision alive and thriving, another delightful event at Milner Gardens and Woodland. We are so fortunate to have this beautiful estate on the Island, and to have it open to the public.
this year’s Fairy Festival runs from Thursday, June 22 – Sunday June 25 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day.
Further information on Milner Gardens and Woodland and coming events can be found at the website:
Milner Gardens is located at 2179 West Island Highway, Qualicum Beach
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 49.353670 Long. -124.414487
N 49 21.220 W 124 24.869